Elvis was the King...

The Spring Roll King! Badum bum. Yeah, I'm awesome.

Spring Roll King
508 Rideau Street, Ottawa

Last night was Oscar night. I normally don't watch awards shows, but I liked a lot of the movies this year, so I kind of wanted to see what happened. I HAD planned to make a very nutritionally sound dinner, but my sister's boyfriend ended up coming over, and he didn't like what we were planning on eating. So, I told him, that meant HE could buy us all Chinese food for dinner. And he did - he knows my weakness for food.

Since I've spent the last five years, before I moved to Vanier, living in Sandy Hill. Spring Roll King was always the "go-to" for the nights we ordered in. And, since they deliver here and it's still close, we continue to order from them. Not only is it close and familiar, it's totally delicious.

We all ordered a combo last night - the number 6. For 8.50 (according to the website, but prices may have increased a bit) you get an egg roll, chicken fried rice, garlic spare ribs and general tao's chicken, as seen above. Although we normally get orders for pick-up, last night we decided on delivery, since I was without a vehicle. The food arrived quickly, within a half hour, and was still relatively hot. The egg roll was awesome, it had great flavour and crunchy texture. The general tao's never disappoints either, and you can get it as spicy as you like it, which is great for someone who likes her food hot.

The garlic spareribs and the chicken fried rice are also great, really good examples of classic Canadian-Chinese done right. All in all, a great meal at a great price. And, to top it off, Colin Firth won the best actor oscar! Swoon!

Desperate and hungry

Have you ever had one of "those days"? Meetings that go longer, food you forgot to defrost, and people in your family with different tastes in food. I had one of those days last Monday (at least I think it was Monday, my brain hurts so who knows) which was made even worse by the fact it was family day in Ontario, so most things were closed. However, thanks to the all awesome power of Twitter, I knew that Epicuria was open.

Fine Food Store and Catering
419 Mackay Street, Ottawa

To be perfectly honest, A and I had a tough time deciding what to get for dinner, since everything looked really good, and the prices were great. It was also good that the staff explained the different heating times for each item, and since we all wanted to eat at the same time, we went for items that had the same kind of heating instructions.

My sister Kar and I got the "Duck Confit with Braised White Beans, Leeks and Butternut Squash" which cost $11.25 each.

A got the "Venison Osso Buco with Beaus Beer, Mushrooms and Bacon" which cost $12.75. He also got a side of potatoes for about $2. If you're terrible at math, like I am, for your information, all three meals came to approximately $35 dollars. Pretty impressive. The photos above show how the meals come pre-packaged to go in the oven, with the exception of A's potatoes. After about fifteen to twenty minutes in a 350 degree oven, the food was ready to go!

The duck confit, straight from the oven to the plate - crispy and smelling delicious!

The venison osso buco, with the taters - the smell of the sauce was totally mesmerizing.

As shown by my sister Kar, we were starving, but DAMN it all smelled great. So, I can tell you're saying to yourself, who cares about the smell, what about the taste?! Well, neither of the dishes disappointed. Sometimes when you get these "to go" dishes, they can end up overcooked in the oven, and can be very rubbery. None of these issues existed with Epicuria's items. The confit skin was crispy, and the duck was very moist. The venison was perfectly done as well, and fell off the bone.

And I also want to point out the same quality of preparation was applied to the sides as well, which can often be an afterthought. The braised beans were perfectly toothsome, and weren't mushy at all. The potatoes were nice and soft, and were a great starch to soak up the osso buco sauce.

In short, we're really glad Epicuria is in our neighbourhood, and won't hesitate to try other take-out items again, especially if I'm the one on dinner duty that night!


Privacy and the interwebs

No food reviews tonight. We've had a few crazy days, filled with great friends, meeting new people, and slowly creeping out of someone's house after they've fallen asleep watching a movie. Good times.

I'm not sure many of you know this, but I work in the field of privacy in the federal government. I'm also taking a part-time certificate course from the University of Alberta in Information Access and Protection of Privacy. This, if you were interested.

My family has always been early adopters of technology. My grandparents had the first colour tv on the block, one of the first people to own a personal computer, and my own parents invested in an internet connection back when it cost less than ten dollars a month to do so. So, I grew up in the land of DOS (C:\ anyone?) and the "Jane of the Jungle" computer game.

Anyways, aside from my obvious early decent into absolute nerd-dom, the modern concept of personal privacy on the internet fascinates me. As someone who has always had the internet, and has had a web presence since she was 7 or so, the concept of having the right to control my personal information online is very new to me. When online shopping became popular, public concerns arose around sharing your credit card information online. I vividly remember showing my grandma that the little "lock" on the screen meant it was secure to purchase things. Wasn't I naive?

Of course, everything has changed with the invent and speedy adoption of the various social networking mediums - in particular, FACEBOOK. I know, old news right? However, discussions around privacy in social networking was my first major exposure to personal privacy issues on the internet. When I started taking the privacy courses, and working more in the field, my concerns for the privacy of my own personal information and the state of privacy laws in Canada grew.

Did you know the federal Privacy Act was passed in 1983? 1983!!! And, by the way, it hasn't been changed at all since. It was passed before the internet was widely adopted. Before the concept of tissue or blood samples as personal information. Mind boggling really.

I don't have any specific advice for people who are concerned about their privacy on the internet. My only suggestions are to inform yourself of your rights to control your personal information, and to not let anyone take advantage of those rights in order to get those extra chickens on Farmville (reminds me of my mom! -A).


Wordless Wednesday

Well... almost wordless. It's my first time alright? This is my grama's roast beef dinner, with a bit of awesome added by A.


Edgar, revisited

So, I know I have already posted on Edgar, but I promise this one won't be so mushy...it's our first restaurant review on the blog so I hope you enjoy it.

K and I went to Edgar on Sunday, February 20. Luckily we arrived at exactly 10:00am and were the first ones through the door. Within the first 10 minutes, the entire 11 seats filled up and by 10:25, between 15-20 had come and gone for lack of seating. I believe this is a true testament to the magic coming out of the tiny little kitchen.

On to the food!

As we were waiting for our food, K was being stared at by a perfectly baked White Chocolate and Cranberry cookie (it was LOOKING at me! -K), which we devoured in about 10 seconds between the two of us. The cookie itself had a slight crunch on the outside while staying perfectly moist on the inside. The addition of the melted chocolate and tart cranberries was the perfect balance.

As usual, K ordered a smoothie (Banana, Raspberry and Blueberry), while I had my coffee, which Simon has gotten better and better at making each week, which says something since it was really good to begin with.

K and I both decided to order the Pain Dore, which as I expressed previously, I am obsessed with. This week was an offering of a HUGE portion filled with a simple ham, Jarlsberg cheese and apple butter. The bread had a nice crunch on the outside, while staying nice and moist on the inside. As anyone that has had Marysol's pain dore can attest to, she loves big portions with a healthy supply of maple syrup. Like I have said in previous posts, I don't usually care for maple syrup, I find it often over powering in terms of sweetness. The sharpness of the Jarlsberg was perfect to cut the sweetness of the syrup, while the ham added a nice savoury aspect to the dish, and also helped to balance out the sharp cheese and sweet syrup.

This may have been the best trip we have had to Edgar, the food was amazing, the place was packed, and Marysol, Simon, and Katie were on the top of their game making everyone happy as best they could, while maintaining their sanity during a very busy period.

The only issue I had during the visit was that there were dishes that needed to be cleaned. I knew however that if I went back and washed them, I may have gotten hit with a pan by Marysol or Simon. Just knowing there were dishes in the back drove me crazy, and is still bugging me to be honest.

We will of course be back at Edgar, soon, to enjoy another wonderful breakfast.

- A

Cupcakes, that taste like cupcakes!

Those were the words of my sister's friend, who has a gluten intolerance. Does that stop her from eating gluten all the time? No. When she comes over for dinner, however, I like to make sure she can eat whatever we are having without guilt and/or stomach pains.

369 Bank St, Ottawa
Open every day from 11-7

Back to the cupcakes at hand. Yes, I realize I talk a lot about cupcakes. However, in my defense, when I have to find a gluten-free dessert on the fly, cupcakes are the first thing that come to my mind. I first turned to a bakery that I know cooks gluten-free goods - Auntie Loo's. However, on a Sunday, they were only open til 2, and it was already close to 4. I thought hard and remembered that someone mentioned that Thimblecakes did gluten-free cupcakes. We ordered a strawberry cheesecake, vanilla bean buttercream, a chocolate mint, a chocolate chocolate, a lemon banana (gluten-free) and a mini chocolate chocolate. All six cupcakes came to a little more than $17.

Expensive? Definitely. Maybe not something I would be able to buy everyday. Delicious? Darn right they were. I really liked the flavours, and my whole dinner party felt that none of the icing was cloying or too sweet. However, I think the best part for me was the praise of our gluten-free guest, that her cupcake was the first gluten-friendly cupcake that tasted like a REAL CUPCAKE. And sometimes making your guests feel welcome and comfortable is worth the extra cost.


Chocolate, the perfect food.

I'm (K) not the biggest fan of chocolate. I love chocolate, don't get me wrong, but I always had a really serious sweet tooth, so candy always seems to be my first choice. However, today A and I were at the grocery store, and a stand of chocolate bars caught my eye. It was a well-picked over selection of Rochef Chocolatier bars.

As you can see, the packaging is really nice. The whole bar, which is quite large at 106 grams, cost $6.99 at our neighbourhood Farm Boy grocery store. A and I selected the "Milk Chocolate with Maple Sugar" bar, which was very appealing since you could see the maple sugar studding the entire bar.

Most importantly, how did it taste?

K: I was surprised that the side of the chocolate bar that is showing through the packaging is actually the back of the bar! It's a thick bar, and it smelled delicious. The bar is separated into little pieces, but when herculean pressure was applied, the bar snapped anywhere it wanted to, which annoys me. The chocolate is quality, smooth and not too creamy.

A: I kind of have to echo K's sentiments about the annoying aspect of the bar being incredibly stiff and not being able to control where it snapped. The chocolate itself was very smooth, while the pieces of Maple Sugar broke up the smoothness very nicely. I'm not normally one for maple syrup, I'm usually an Old Time Syrup kind of guy, so I was unsure how I would like the bar. I found the maple to be too subtle, and it was overwhelmed by the chocolate itself. All things considered, I would not spend $6.99 on this bar again. I would much rather go with a simple milk or maybe dark chocolate bar and pair it with a nice bottle of Red Wine next time.

K and A

Lucy, the dog we bought on Kijiji

Today, there has been a lot of chat on this story, one that discusses the perils of buying dogs from "backyard breeders." It hits close to home, since we bought our dog Lucy, from someone on Kijiji.

We had been looking for a dog for about a year and a half. A had spent most everyday begging for a dog, but I wasn't certain, since I hadn't had much experience with dealing with dogs growing up, other than my sister's sweet dog Murphy. I was browsing Kijiji one day, and saw an ad with a little black bundle of fur. We responded to the ad, and took the bus out into South Keys that night.

When we went in to see the puppies, alarms probably should have been going off. The lady's house was super clean, and there were two types of dogs she was selling - terriers and pug/lhasa apsos. The doggie parents were nowhere to be seen, and looking back, the dogs were almost too young to be separated from their mothers. However, we fell in love with little "Tuxedo Jane" and plunked down a deposit. We walked to Wal-Mart, picked up the essential doggie supplies, and took a cab to pick up our fuzzy girl. 

Reading this article today made me realize how lucky we were. Lucy has been a fantastic dog, even though we are pretty sure she's not Pug/Lhasa Apso, but possibly Pug/Boston Terrier. She's friendly, protective when you need her to be, and a lot of fun. It took a lot of training to get her this way though, and we are still learning together, even if she's a mature 3 year old dog now. So take that article with a grain of salt, but I will be looking to get our next dog from a dog rescue, since I'm not sure we will be so lucky again.

Much love to our Lucy Lu, Lucy Goose, Lulu, Muffin, Night Fury, and Boo Boo.


Amour pain doré

Just an FYI... I don't speak French. I know what Pain Doré is because of a wonderful little hideaway in Hull called Edgar.

Edgar is owned and operated by the awesome Marysol, with help from her partner Simon, who have worked tirelessly to provide us all with amazing food. I have yet to have lunch here, but each weekend, K and I can be found in one of the little tables enjoying whatever Marysol's lovely little brain can cook up...usually filled with bacon (part of the inspiration for this blog's name! -K).

K and I are going to properly review Edgar's offerings this weekend, but I have chosen to make my first post about the impact Marysol, Simon and Edgar as a whole have had on me.

We discovered Edgar because K started following Marysol's blog, and we were there opening week and have been back most every weekend since. The first day we went, we really didn't speak to Marysol and Simon, but when we left, we were raving about our experience on Twitter and basically haven't stopped singing their praises. Edgar is about more than food to us, it's about going to a restaurant that makes us feel at home. We have since become friends with Marysol and Simon. Good food is about more than flavour to me. To me, good food is about the whole experience. The service, the food, the staff, the atmosphere, and to be honest, Edgar is tops for me.

K and I had a great experience on Saturday at Edgar that didn't involve us eating food, like usual. K had the idea that she wanted to cook something for Marysol, so she did. (Ahem, bacon jam, by the way. -K) We went over and when we got there, it was busy, they were short-staffed and the dishes were piling up in the sink. K went right to work making a killer Panini for Marysol and Katie, and I decided I would do the dishes for them. You wouldn't think so, but doing dishes for 2 hours in a restaurant was kind of awesome. It felt great to help out a friend when she has done so much for me so many times, even though they might not know it.

As I was doing the dishes, Simon came in to help close down the shop, and when he walked around to the sink, he looked shocked and/or mortified. He said to me, "I can do those", to which I responded "so can I". It felt so great to do what I could to possibly get them out of there earlier than usual.

I don't think I know how to properly articulate the impact Marysol and Simon have had on me. I see how hard they work to give everyone the best food possible and it makes me think that if they have the strength to work so hard to do all they do, I can have the strength to chase my own dreams, no matter how difficult the process may be.

Oh and if you haven't tried it yet, the pain doré is always fantastic!


Red velvet cupcakes and Valentine's Day

I love cupcakes. If I was presented with a whole cake, I would eat it all, and that's just not good for my health. I don't buy the whole "pie is the new cupcake" bull... but that's probably because I've never found a pie I would sell my organs for. That being said, there's very little room for error with a cupcake. There's only so much, so it had better be darn good. Since it is Valentine's Day today, I thought I would pay homage to the day of love with a review of two red velvet cupcakes I've eaten recently.

Isobel's Red Velvet Cupcake
Isobel's Cupcakes and Cookies http://www.isobels.com/
Twitter: @isobelscupcakes 

The other day on Twitter, I saw Isobel's tweet about their new red velvet cupcake! I was pretty pumped, since the elusive red velvet isn't always a Canadian cupcake "thing," but something better left to our southern neighbours. I sent off my lovely husband, since Isobel's is only a two minute walk from our house. As soon as he brought them home, I dug in.

First thing - I was shocked, yes shocked, the frosting wasn't cream cheese. I thought that was something all red velvet cupcakes had to have. Once I got over that horror, I was still incredibly disappointed with the frosting. It was a buttercream, which was fine, but it didn't have that really BIG flavour that is necessary to stand up to the quasi-sour red velvet cake. The cake itself was good. It had that signature tang, and was really moist (but not too moist!). I think this cupcake was good, but could be really great if they kicked up the frosting a notch.

Southern Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting
The Cupcake Lounge (Courtesy of The Candy Store)

This cupcake is big. Not massive, but big in comparison to other cupcake offerings in Ottawa. I find the way they frost their cupcakes really interesting, and I'm not sure I could mimic it if I tried. The only annoying thing is when you unwrap it, some of the frosting flakes off. Not so great if you have kids, or are made easily upset by frosting loss, like I am.

The cupcake itself though? YUM. The frosting is cream cheese - thank you - and there's not too much or too little of it. The cake itself is a good consistency, and it doesn't "crumb" too much. Honestly, it's delicious.

Onto our Valentine's Day. I got a full six-pack of cupcakes from the Cupcake Lounge, as well as a lovely Henry of Pelham Reserve Chardonnay from A. I got him a heart shaped box of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from Wal-Mart, which I'm pretty sure he ate already since I haven't seen them in the house since this morning.

We ate mac n' cheese with hotdogs for dinner - awesome. To my husband, I love you more everyday, thanks for spoiling me when I ask you to.


Hello internets! You sexy series of tubes, you.

I don't know where to start! The hubby A and I wanted to start a blog to write about stuff, think about stuff, and give us an activity to do.

We like to eat a lot, so I figure most of the posts will revolve around that, but we also get up to random shenanigans, so that might be of interest as well.

Without further ado, our dog in a sweater.